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Driver who killed woman at Charlottesville rally may have felt threatened: witness

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Lawyers for the white nationalist on trial for murder after plowing his car into a crowd protesting a right-wing rally in Virginia began their case on Wednesday with testimony to back up his defense that he felt endangered by the counterprotesters.

James Fields, 21, does not dispute being at the wheel of the car that killed a woman and injured others protesting the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville on Aug. 12, 2017. Field has said he acted in self-defense, and his lawyers called on the testimony of a man who also attended the rally and said he felt afraid.

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The violent chaos at the rally became a pivotal moment in the resurgence of white nationalist fringe groups in the United States.

The first defense witness, Hayden Calhoun, told the jury he had attended the rally with his girlfriend. He said he met Fields for the first time the night before the car incident, when men with torches marched in a park, chanting anti-Semitic slogans.

“The area had erupted in violence,” Calhoun said. “There was a brawl going on. Tear gas had been deployed.”

Calhoun said he and his girlfriend feared being attacked by counterprotesters.

After meeting Fields and a fourth rally attendee, Calhoun said he and his girlfriend, seeing safety in numbers, decided to walk with them. He described Field’s demeanor the night before he drove into the crowd as “calm, tired.”

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In cross-examination, Calhoun told prosecutors that, despite their fears, there were “no physical attacks” on Calhoun or the other people with him.

Fields was one of hundreds of white nationalists who descended on Charlottesville that week to protest the planned removal of a statue honoring the U.S. Civil War-era Confederacy from a public park.

Earlier this week, jurors heard that the day before going to Charlottesville, Fields exchanged cellphone text messages with his mother suggesting the counterprotesters would “need to be careful,” and sent her an image of Adolf Hitler.

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After his arrest, Fields broke down in tears at the police station upon learning he had killed someone, according to video footage shown to the jury.

Fields, faces 10 charges for his role in the violence, including murder, which carries a maximum sentence of life in prison if he is convicted.

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Fields also faces separate federal hate crime charges, which carry a potential death sentence. He has pleaded not guilty in that case as well.

Writing by Jonathan Allen; Editing by Frank McGurty and Jonathan Oatis


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Lindsey Graham promises Fox viewers a new investigation into Andrew McCabe despite the Justice Dept clearing him

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Appearing on the Fox Business channel with host Maria Bartiromo, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) promised viewers he fully intends to use his position as the head of the Senate Judiciary Committee to launch his own investigation into former Deputy Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation Andrew McCabe despite the former law enforcement official already having been cleared by the Justice Department.

Complaining that the controversial Steele dossier was based on " a bunch of bar-talk and hearsay," Graham said he plans to call -- at the very least -- McCabe and former FBI Director James Comey in to be grilled by his committee.

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MSNBC guest goes off on Chris Matthews for comparing Sanders to Nazis: ‘He had kin murdered in the Holocaust’

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Time magazine editor Anand Giridharadas criticized MSNBC host Chris Matthews over the weekend for his alleged bias against Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.

Giridharadas remarks came after Matthews compared Sanders' win in Nevada to a Nazi invasion.

"Last night was a historic win that I think a lot of us are still struggling to understand," Giridharadas explained. "It's historic because we may be seeing that we are paddling through a bend of a river in history here. Something is happening in America right now that actually does not fit our mental models."

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‘Kiss Florida goodbye’: Voto Latino head warns Democrats of coming 2020 debacle

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Appearing on MSNBC's "AM Joy," Voto Latino CEO María Teresa Kumar said Democrats should not count on taking Florida's 29 electoral votes in the upcoming 2020 presidential election if Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) is the at the top of the ticket.

During a fairly contentious panel discussion on the viability of Sanders as a candidate due to self-identifying as a democratic socialist, Kumar claimed that would not play well Florida's Latino community.

"All I can think about when David [Corn] was unpacking it for us, we can all agree is you can kiss Florida goodbye," she explained. "I say that, Floridians -- Latinos that have fled socialism, they have fled and they are in Florida and they have sensibilities that are different from the rest of the Latino community."

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